So yeah, this Trevor Bauer kid is pretty good. Initial caveat is that I'm not a professional so take anything I say with a grain of salt. But at least for me, for today, I thought I saw a truly special pitcher on the mound. He's just incredibly exciting to watch. Edge of the seat material. Especially for fans who are more into the pitching aspect of baseball, than the hitting aspect. I highly recommend people who have MiLB.tv to watch his next start. Or I guess just be patient and wait. He'll be up eventually.
Or basically, what you need to be able to do before Gibby will consider calling you up. He has great pace when he pitches. The game goes by very fast. He didn't throw over to first a single time today, which Gibby will probably want to correct. Though to be fair, there were only three batters at first the whole game I think. Additionally, with how quick he gets to the plate, and the general pace of his pitching, I don't see how runners can be comfortable stealing off of him. He fields well. There was a grounder to the 1B and Bauer went immediately to the bag, ahead of the runner by many steps. He also fielded a bunt cleanly, as well as a slow dribbler toward the right of the mound.
Bauer's not a good hitter. But he's also not a bad hitter. In his first at-bat, he put up a tremendous 10 pitch at-bat against the opposing pitcher, fouling off multiple pitches in order to get to a 3-2 count. It ended in a groundout, but that kind of approach is going to help him a lot in the majors, at least in terms of wearing out opponent pitchers. However, this was counter-balanced by just an atrocious at-bat in the 7th inning, where he failed on three straight bunt attempts to strikeout. Not only that, but on one of his bunt attempts, he almost got his runner on 2nd thrown out because he bunted through a fastball down the middle. There's definitely room for improvement in this area, though it's not a deal-breaker for me in terms of a MLB callup (though it might be for Gibby).
Trevor Bauer: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K, 1 HR
To prevent my homerism from leaking through too much, I'll start with the negatives. First, the fastball command could use some improvement. He didn't fall behind hitters much today, but when he did, it was almost always because he missed the zone on consecutive fastballs. Is his fastball command terrible? No. In fact, his fastball command tonight was better than Cahill's usually. Honestly, assuming Bauer can consistently pitch like he did today (in terms of stuff and command) he would be able to hold his own in the majors, and would probably be putting up a 3.5ish ERA. The reason why I say this is because even though his fastball command wasn't perfect, he located it well enough, often enough, for it to not be a serious problem. Moreover, when he missed with his fastball, he was missing out of the zone, and not leaving pitches middle-middle to be hammered. On the other hand, I'm not fully convinced yet that Bauer can pitch like this on a consistent basis, and would like to see a few more starts before coming to that conclusion.
His changeup/splitter (I don't have velocity readings, so I can only guess and/or go off what the announcer said) wasn't perfect. He would sometimes hang the changeup up in the zone, which is most definitely not what he intended to do. Fortunately for him, the hitters didn't take advantage of the few times this occurred (very few, I only saw it happen two or three times). However, at the major league level, against a strong lineup, he might not have been so lucky.
Now, on to the positives. MiLB TV doesn't come with velocity readings, so I can only go off what the announcer said. It sounded like the fastball was 92-95 mph, but it looked faster to me. Hitters weren't really squaring off on the fastball at all. The HR that Bauer gave up looked to me (and also according to the announcer) like it was windblown (at the very least, it did not look like Bauer missed his location). And even the double, which was admittedly hard hit, was not of the "in the gap" variety, but more like the "hard grounder that sneaks by the 3B down the left field line" variety. He changes eye levels with the fastball a lot, pitching both up in the zone and down in the zone at different times, and it was incredibly effective today.
The curveball was just disgustingly good. He was commanding the curveball on the edges of the plate for called strikes, as well as swinging strikes, and he was also able to bury it into the dirt for swinging strikes when he wanted. It is by far his best pitch, and probably the best curveball I've seen thrown by a Dbacks pitcher ever (I only seriously started watching baseball in 2008).
He was also throwing (though infrequently) a changeup/splitter that faded at the plate. As noted above, the command of this pitch could definitely use improvement. But when the command was on, the pitch was also disturbingly good, generating swings and misses out of the zone.
As with most minor league pitchers, I think Bauer's pitch selection is a bit too predictable at times. On any initial two strike count, he almost always went with the curveball. And he almost always started off at-bats with fastballs (which is why he gets into trouble when he can't locate his fastball, because he falls behind). Bauer's stuff is good enough in my opinion, that he can oftentimes get away with grooving fastballs down the plate after falling behind in the count, even at the major league level. However, you'd still like to see him not fall behind. I think the best way he can do this, is by varying his pitch selection early in the at-bat. Start off hitters sometimes with a curveball, which he commands the best, to get ahead. Then start mixing in all three pitches later.
Finally, Bauer's command actually improves as he goes through the game, which isn't entirely surprising, since after a few innings, he should be settling into his mechanics more comfortably. However, it was absolutely amazing to see him pound his catcher's mitt with fastballs and curveballs in the 7th and 8th innings, with barely any movement by the catcher. If Bauer can somehow do that consistently from the very first inning, I see a potential top 10 pitcher in baseball.
Below are my notes on Bauer's debut outing, per inning, batter-by-batter. Hope this account has gotten everyone excited to see Bauer in Sedona red!
First batter – Swinging strikeout on a curveball.
Second batter – Soft flyball to left field.
Third batter – I don’t know what he threw on the second pitch, but it absolutely just died at the plate for a swinging strike. Filthy. Announcer said it was a splitter. Ended with a curveball that amounted to a soft flyball to right field. It’s already immediately obvious that his out pitch is the curveball. Threw it on 0-2 against this guy also, but buried it in the dirt and the batter checked his swing.
First batter – Left a fastball in the middle of the plate for a single.
Second batter – My god when the curveball is located well it’s filthy. Swing and miss on the second pitch. Ended with a low fastball for an easy grounder to third.
Third batter – Groundball single through the right side.
Fourth batter – A swing and a miss on a changeup on the fourth pitch. And then finished him off for a swinging strikeout with a curveball.
Fifth batter – No outcome. Got him to 2-2, but then the opponents tried to pull a double steal (to steal home haha) and it failed.
First batter – Infield popup.
Second batter – Curveball located for a strike for a called strikeout. It was against the pitcher though.
Third batter – Double down the left field line.
Fourth batter – Missed his changeup location up in the zone on 2-0, but fortunately no swing. Came back with two straight curveballs, to get swinging strikeout, but the curveball was in the dirt and it got away from the catcher. I’m pretty confident though that a MLB catcher would have gotten that.
Fifth batter – Another swinging strikeout on a curveball. That curveball is disgusting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a curveball in the majors that generates those kinds of ugly swings so consistently (though that’s largely because the Dbacks haven’t really had a good curveball artist in the past few years). Really curious to see how MLB hitters try to handle those types of curveballs. I feel like most of the time, MLB hitters just choose to not swing at curveballs.
First batter – Easy groundout to the first baseman.
Second batter – Bauer’s good/bad in a nutshell in this at-bat. Poor fastball command put Bauer behind 3-0. Then just threw a fastball down the middle, and got an easy groundout to the 3B.
Third batter – It’s so predictable, and yet somehow still so effective. Got to 0-2 after a fastball called strike and a fouled fastball. You had to know the curveball was coming, but the hitter still had no chance. Swinging strikeout.
First batter – Hard hit groundball to the 2B who fielded it well for a groundout. On a 3-2 pitch. Got behind 2-0 to start the at-bat because of poor fastball command.
Second batter – First walk for Bauer. It was a 3-2 curveball that just missed low apparently. Looked awfully close to me.
Third batter – Pitcher sacrifice bunt for an out. Bauer fielded it cleanly.
Fourth batter – Really close check swing on a slider (but ended up being called a ball). Swinging strike on a sinking fastball. Swinging strike on a curveball. Swinging strike on a curveball. Oh. My. God. Both curveballs were perfectly located on the outside edge of the plate against the right-handed hitter.
First batter – Wow. First fastball was so high but still got a chase and a swing and miss. Fastball for an easy groundball to SS, but he bobbled it and so batter is aboard on an error.
Second batter – Wild pitch on Bauer. This time was actually Bauer’s fault. Pitch was in the dirt way before it hit the plate. Runner to 2nd. Bauer retires hitter with a high popup to CF.
Third batter – Bauer missed on a curveball up in the zone, and batter went to steal third, but he was thrown out. Curveball for a soft grounder to Bauer who fields it cleanly and retires the batter.
First batter – Missed on two straight curveballs to start 2-0. Came back with two fastballs that were fouled off. Another missed curveball to get to 3-2. But of course, throws another curveball, this time located in the zone for a called third strike.
Second batter – Fastball groundball to the SS. Easy play. Great command in this at-bat. Nailed the catcher’s mitt perfectly on fastballs and curveballs.
Third batter – Very impressive at-bat for Bauer. Quickly went 0-2 on the hitter. On the 1-2 pitch, he nailed the catcher’s mitt perfectly on a curveball, but didn’t get the strikeout call. Came back with a fastball for a swinging strike, again hitting the catcher’s mitt perfectly. Ironically, the 7th inning was arguably the best for Bauer command-wise, at least with his fastball.
First batter – Well, there goes the shutout haha. High flyball that just carried out of the park. For what it’s worth, he nailed the catcher’s mitt with the fastball. Announcer agreed that in any normal park, that is a flyball out, and that the HR was wind-supported.
Second batter – Fell behind 3-0 on this hitter. But managed to induce an easy, harmless groundball to the 2B.
Third batter – Another fastball perfectly located for a swinging strikeout.
Fourth batter – Oh. My. God. Three swinging strikes on three breaking balls. The first two were perfectly located into the catcher’s mitt. The last one actually looked terrible, and was buried into the dirt, but it got an ugly swing for strike three.